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Monday, October 23rd, 2017 04:23 pm

Posted by Dave

December 1941. "Raking leaves. New York City suburbs." Where the bamboo meets the oak. Photo by Arthur Rothstein, Office of War Information. View full size.
Monday, October 23rd, 2017 04:00 pm

Posted by Claire Jaffe (Contributor)

Prince George's County is rewriting their zoning code, a guide for where and how to grow, which hasn't been updated in 50 years. The process, which began in 2013, is in full swing. 

Join Council Members Deni Taveras and Dannielle Glaros for a special meeting today, Monday, October 23, with the Prince George’s County Zoning Ordinance Rewrite team to learn more about what the rewrite will mean for the communities along the Rt. 1/Baltimore Avenue corridor.

Then, attend one of three public meetings this week in the county to weigh in on the first draft of recommendations: Tuesday, October 24 at 10701 Livingston Road in Fort Washington, Wednesday, October 25 at Wednesday, October 25, 2017 at 7120 Contee Road in Laurel, or Thursday, October 26, 2017 at 8001 Sheriff Road in Landover. All the meetings run from 7 pm to 9 pm. The comment period ends on December 15. 

Also, check out these other great events in the region!

Tuesday, October 24: The District Department of Transportation is taking a closer look at rehabilitation of the 16th Street bridge that goes over Piney Branch Parkway. Come to the public meeting from 6:30 pm to 8:30 pm at Northwest Community Church (4100 16th Street NW) to get the latest. 

Wednesday, October 25: Come out to Metro Hack Night VII to get the inside scoop on all the latest tech ideas for Metro. The event begins at 6 pm at WMATA HQ–Jackson Graham Building (600 5th Street NW). 

Wednesday, October 25: Strong Towns is coming to DC! Hear from Charles Marohn on economic resilience of cities and participate in a community-specific discussion about how the Strong Towns approach can improve DC and other cities like it. RSVP is requested

Wednesday, October 25: Cities are the backbone of American innovation and enterprise. Managing urban areas, planning for the future, and building strong, vibrant economies is the challenge facing mayors, city planners, private enterprise leaders, and thought leaders. Hear thought leaders chat about this and more in a town hall format at "Building a Smart City" from 4 pm to 6 pm at Bloomberg Government (1101 K St NW). 

Next Monday, October 30: The College Park City-University Partnership is a community development corporation founded as a partnership between the University of Maryland, College Park and the City of College Park. The Partnership is working to implement the University District Vision 2020, a plan to make College Park a more vibrant, innovative, safe, and transit-friendly place to live. Learn more about this collaboration at a talk from 1 pm to 4 pm at the Stamp Student Union on UMD Campus (3972 Campus Drive) in College Park. 

Top image: Hyattsville Image by Elvert Barnes licensed under Creative Commons.

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Monday, October 23rd, 2017 12:01 pm

The Red Fiat of Osijek monument.

An unusual monument pays tribute to an iconic act of defiance during the early stages of the Croatian War of Independence.

On June 27, 1991, T-55 tanks from the Yugoslav People's Army rolled through Osijek, a city that would later suffer heavy damage from the war, in a forceful demonstration of power. But the army’s efforts failed to instill fear in all of the people.

A resident of the city decided to protest the incoming forces. He parked his red Fiat (also called a Fićo) on the street in front of the approaching tanks, blocking the road as an act of defiance. The man calmly exited the Fiat seconds before the tank leading the horde of military vehicles rammed into the car and dragged it along the street before crushing it.

The event was captured on film and was shown on the news. It was interpreted as a symbol of aggression from the Yugoslav Army and came to symbolize the resolution of the Croatian people.

On the day of the event, 20 years later, a monument was unveiled to commemorate the act. A red Fiat can be seen climbing a T-55 tank, symbolizing resistance, and in the end, victory, in the war for independence.

Monday, October 23rd, 2017 12:00 pm

Merlin Satellite.

On a clear day in the Lizard Peninsula of Cornwall, you can just make out the three massive satellite dishes of the Goonhilly Earth Station towering on the horizon. As you make your way down the scenically empty B3293 highway, signs advertising taxi companies with vaguely intergalactic-inspired names suggest something otherworldly once went on nearby.

Eventually, "Arthur," the first and largest of the Goonhilly satellite dishes, looms into view, flanked by "Merlin" and "Guinevere." Surrounded by not-a-whole-lot and populated largely by seabirds, the satellites are an unexpected addition to this starkly beautiful landscape.

Goonhilly Earth Station was, since its inception in 1962, one of the planet's most important terrestrial communication stations, used to broadcast signals into space and around the world from dozens of dishes. The site's major satellites were named after Cornish legends.

At 85 feet in diameter, Arthur (officially called Goonhilly Antenna 1) has played a key role in broadcasting several landmark events of the second half of the 20th century, ranging from the moon landing to the iconic Live Aid concert of 1985.

The location was selected for its remoteness, and clear lines of sight to the Atlantic and Indian Oceans. It remained a key player in satellite communications for over four decades, until 2006, when operations were moved to to Herefordshire and the site fell into disuse. 

Poor Arthur (who is a Grade II-listed protected structure) and friends went through some tough times, but change is afoot. There are plans to bring Goonhilly into the 21st century as a revamped space port.

Until that happens, the visitors center at the station remains closed to the public, though the satellites and center are still operational. You can wander around the perimeter, listen to the mysterious low hum that reverberates in the air, and lose yourself in the sublimity of three massive satellite dishes looming in a stark landscape.

Monday, October 23rd, 2017 03:00 pm

Posted by Jonathan Crowe

Geographical magazine reviews The Red Atlas, the survey of Soviet-era topo maps of the world by John Davies and Alexander J. Kent out this month from University of Chicago Press. National...

(Click through to read the entire post.)
Monday, October 23rd, 2017 11:12 am

In 1903, a New York millionaire threw one of the most unusual banquets in history. C.K.G. Billings, a horse-racing fanatic who the New York Times called "the American Horse King," spent thousands of dollars transforming a Manhattan ballroom so he and his friends could eat on horseback.

Cornelius Kingsley Garrison Billings inherited a gas company, but his passion was racehorses. A famous equestrian, Billings built a $200,000 private stable next to the Harlem River Speedway, a track for horse and carriage racing that opened to cars in 1919. The luxurious stable included two exquisite suites for Billings and guests in the upper story and a training ring for show horses. Billings wanted to celebrate the finished stable with a banquet.


Newspapers speculated about the Horse King's banquet—journalists described the stable's decorations and even discovered that the dinner would be on horseback. In the face of intense public interest, Billings seemingly took a more typical dinner-party route, by selecting a restaurant. But this was misdirection.

On the night of the dinner, Billings' guests filed into the ballroom of Sherry’s, a 5th Avenue restaurant, in black and white evening wear. To their surprise, the room was decorated with fake turf, plants, and painted scenery that resembled the English countryside. The room had no tables. Instead, the guests mounted live horses, which had ridden the freight elevator up to the ballroom. Waiters in riding gear brought oats for the horses and placed dish after dish on table trays mounted on each horse’s saddle.


The French-style dinner that Billings and company ate was as lavish as their surroundings. The meal started with caviar and turtle soup. One course featured truite au bleu—cooking trout while it is super-fresh and dunking it in vinegar results in a blue-purple colored fish. Served with a green herb sauce, it would have been visually striking, if hard to eat on horseback.

More courses followed: rack of lamb with glazed vegetables, guinea hens with lettuce-heart salad, and asparagus with hollandaise sauce. Flambéed peaches capped off the meal. On the menu, Sherry noted the parties’ drinks, including an 1898 Krug champagne, scotch and sodas, and bottled ginger ale for Billings, who probably knew better than to drink and ride.

At the end of the dinner, the guests dismounted to watch a variety show, while the horses headed for the freight elevator. Attendees also received sterling-silver horseshoes inscribed with the menu as souvenirs. While none from the dinner have surfaced, Sherry’s record of the meal gives useful clues as to the night’s happenings, including the number of attendees (32), the time, and a note that the event was photographed by the famous Byron Company, whose photographer captured the iconic image of New York’s banquet on horseback.

We’re launching a food section! Gastro Obscura will cover the world’s most wondrous food and drink. Sign up for our weekly email to get an early look.

Monday, October 23rd, 2017 11:00 am

Old surgical equipment at the museum.

In the center of Larnaca, somewhat hidden off a side street, lies the Kyriazis Medical Museum. Though small and unassuming, it offers a fascinating glimpse into what doctors, nurses, and patients had to work with in the days before modern medicine, from antiquity up to the 20th century.

The museum displays a unique collection of treasures including old equipment, curious contraptions, and odd pieces of medical history.

Some highlights include stone dildos ("phallic items") from ancient Kition; illustrated documents containing medial poems and curses; an OBGYN bench reportedly used by over half of Larnaca's original population; and a replica of the Hippocratic Ladder, a wooden ladder used to treat dislocations of the hip or of the neck.

The museum was founded in 2011 by Marios Kyriazis, a private collector who inherited many of these artifacts from his grandfather and great-grandfather. Aside from the museum's permanent exhibition, it also hosts cultural events, public lectures, and all sorts of activities revolving around medical interests. 

The museum also has a lovely outdoor garden where healing herbs such as lavender, basil, sage and melissa are planted and health drinks are served.

Monday, October 23rd, 2017 03:00 pm

Posted by David Alpert (Founder)

Rents are still rising nationwide and even faster in some cities like Seattle, but in the District, they're (slowly) going down, at least for higher-end apartments. Is this the result of DC building lots of new housing?

Bisnow reports, "District-wide rents for Class-A apartment buildings decreased by 1.3% year-over-year to an average monthly rate of $2,585, according to research firm Delta Associates, and Class-B rents experienced a drop of 0.6%." (See definitions at the end of this article.)

Could high rates of new housing construction be the reason? @MarketUrbanism notes that DC has built a lot of new housing compared to last decade.

What neighborhoods dropped in price?

The Bisnow article says that the actual drops weren't "where experts predicted." For instance, rents in Class A buildings (the fanciest) declined 6.1% in Columbia Heights. Rents dropped 2.4% in Dupont Circle, Logan Circle, and Mount Vernon Triangle. These are areas which haven't seen a whole lot of new housing this year.

Meanwhile, the NoMa/H Street area and Capitol Riverfront/Southwest areas, which have the most new housing in the District, are staying more expensive. Jon Banister writes in the Bisnow article:

In the Capitol Hill/Capitol Riverfront/Southwest D.C. submarket, Class-A rents grew by 3.2% to an average of $2,410. That submarket absorbed 1,655 units during the 12 months ending Sept. 30, comprising nearly half of D.C.'s total absorption over that period. (See definitions at the end.)

The NoMa/H Street submarket had the second-highest absorption over that span, with its 935 units more than doubling the absorption of the third-highest area. Rents did drop in that submarket to an average of $2,413, though its 1.2% decline was slightly below the District average. 

Delta's president Will Rich thinks the pricier market in the fast-growing neighborhoods is because they're getting trendier. There are new Whole Foods in both areas, The Wharf just opened in Southwest, and much more.

Contributor Payton Chung suggested another factor, at least for Southwest: the newer buildings are fancier than the older ones, and therefore are charging higher rents. It's possible for average rents to go up but rents in the same building to go down, if the new buildings rent for so much more than the old ones. He wrote, "So much has been built in Southwest and Capitol Riverfront lately that snazzy, expensive, brand-new apartments are now most of what's for rent in these neighborhoods. Even last year, much of what was available was in older, less-chic buildings. But now, the typical apartment for rent is inside a brand-new building with top-end rents, which brings up the average rent."

It'd be really helpful to see what's happening to rents in buildings that aren't brand new. Are they going down? Theoretically, adding housing supply should allow those rents to slowly decline or at least level off.

Image by BeyondDC licensed under Creative Commons.

What does this do to rents in cheaper buildings?

The Delta report just looks at higher-end apartments; even Class B are far from cheap. What about the existing apartments for middle class and lower-income folks?

This question ties into a perennial debate about new development. Some advocates for low-income residents say that even though supply and demand laws tell us more supply would decrease prices, on a neighborhood level, growth makes a neighborhood's rents rise. 

There's some truth to that. As Rick Jacobus explains in this widely-disseminated Shelterforce article last year, new "luxury" housing in "otherwise distressed neighborhoods ... dramatically changed the perception of these neighborhoods–they sent a clear signal to the market that these places were safe–both in the sense that they were safe for wealthier residents to live in and in the sense that they were safe for more investment in residential development." 

Sometimes, the developers run marketing campaigns to sell the neighborhood to more affluent renters or "even coin a new name for the neighborhood," Jacobus explains. "If you are concerned about displacement, you don’t want your neighborhood to be 'discovered.'"

However, Jacobus goes on to explain that "fighting to block new luxury development neighborhood by neighborhood is a losing strategy." Not just because it often won't succeed, but that even blocking most of the new luxury development won't help. At most, it would stop a neighborhood from getting "trendy" for a short time, but usually at the expense of some other neighborhood.

After all, especially in DC, most "gentrifying" neighborhoods had a strong stock of beautiful, desirable old row houses. Neighborhoods can, and do, shift from less-desirable to more-desirable for wealthier residents even without luxury high-rises.

Image by Ted Eytan licensed under Creative Commons.

On a citywide level, Jacobus says, the only solution is to find a way to build as many new places to live as there are new jobs. And, pursue policies to ensure some homes remain affordable to people with lower incomes. That includes policies that set aside new housing as (somewhat) affordable, ones that preserve existing, more deeply affordable homes, and programs like land trusts which transfer land to a nonprofit that ensures it remains affordable. 

A land trust will protect homes around the planned 11th Street Bridge park, which is sure to make the area more desirable. Meanwhile, inclusionary zoning is gradually building up a stock of permanently affordable housing, which while not serving the neediest (who we must provide for as well), help ensure a place for middle income earners for the long term. All of these strategies together are necessary.

In addition to protecting and building dedicated affordable housing, DC does need a strategy to ensure it keeps building the market-rate places to live that meet the overall area demand. So far, that's happening by filling in old industrial areas, strip club zones, and parking lots. That can continue for a little while, but not too long. 

Meanwhile, huge swaths of the most affluent parts of the city continue to fight against adding homes for new people, with lawsuits, restrictive zoning, and historic designations. That's why Greater Greater Washington and a coalition of other groups, including social justice groups, affordable housing groups, tenants' groups, developers, and faith groups submitted amendments to DC's Comprehensive Plan [LINK] which try to tackle all of these issues:

  • Building enough homes for the overall need
  • Furthering fair housing by adding places to live, including affordable ones, in high-price areas
  • Making new affordable homes a top priority for community benefits in new development
  • Protecting existing lower-income tenants when properties are redeveloped

We think all of these are necessary to ensure a city where all can afford to live, or keep living. Given that DC's rents seem to be more stable than in the past, it can be done. But we can't do it without affirmative public policies that hold these ends strongly in mind.

Definitions: There are some real estate jargon terms here.

  • Class A/B: Delta  Associates defines Class A mainly as large apartment buildings built in or after 1991 with the most extensive packages of amenities. Apartment buildings that are still fairly high-end but built before 1991 or which have fewer amenities count as Class B.
  • Absorption basically means new units that were rented out or sold. If someone builds a 200-unit rental building, they're "delivering" 200 units all at once when the building opens, but they won't all rent instantly; if half of them rent in the first 6 months, then that's 100 units of "absorption."

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Monday, October 23rd, 2017 02:05 pm

Posted by Payton Chung (Editorial Board)

Zoning might seem like a mysterious gobbledygook of confusing acronyms and dazzlingly polychrome maps, but it's easier than you think to figure out what you–or, perhaps more importantly, your neighbors–are allowed to build on their land under area zoning laws.

GGWash's Game of Zones (which we ran this March) introduced you to the DC Office of Zoning and their easy-to-read Zoning Handbook, which tells you all about the different zoning categories in DC. However, the text and content of the zoning ordinance is only half of the question: How are these zones applied across the District? One might also want to investigate a specific development.

For instance, let's say that I wanted to find out more about the recent proposal to redevelop the Forman Mills shopping center in Edgewood, near the Rhode Island Avenue Metro station.

Image by the author.

Step 1. Begin at the Office of Zoning’s map gallery, at, and choose the Official Zoning Map on the left.

Step 2. Navigate to the location you're interested in. You can either pan and zoom on the map, or use the search bar at the top to find a location by its address, Advisory Neighborhood Council, or various other obscure identifiers.

Image by the author.

Step 3. Double-click on the site you’re interested in—and voila! The report on the left will tell you all sorts of useful information about the property, like its owner, elected representatives, "square" (every block in DC has an assigned number), other designations like historic protections, and (most importantly for our purposes) its Zone District. 

But what does it all mean? Click directly on that zoning classification to read more about it in DCOZ's Zoning Handbook.

Image by the author.

Step 4. This particular site has a bit of a history, as you'll see by scrolling further down in the box. For instance, a Planned Unit Development has been adopted for this site (but, um... it's complicated), and there's a history of zoning changes that affect the site ("Cases for Lot").

Image by the author.

Step 5. For sites with zoning changes, you can bring up a Case Report about each zoning change by clicking on its Case Number. A PUD filing typically includes many detailed pages of exhibits, which are listed on the right under Case Documents. (For a particularly complicated PUD, you may have to click "View Full Log" to see all of the files.)

Image by the author.

Step 6. These exhibits are all reports, statements, and architectural plans that, if the PUD has been adopted, legally bind any future development on the site, and often contain a wealth of information about what's planned in the future. Here's a map of the building footprints, for instance.

Have you discovered some useful information with this tool?

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Monday, October 23rd, 2017 10:12 am

In 1922, Albert Einstein sat in a hotel room in Tokyo and wrote down two thoughts. “Wo ein Wille ist, da ist auch ein Weg”—where there’s a will, there’s a way—and “Stilles bescheidenes Leben gibt mehr Glueck als erfolgreiches Streben, verbunden mit bestaendiger Unruhe”—a quiet and modest life brings more joy than a pursuit of success bound with constant unrest.

He gave those two notes in lieu of a tip to a courier who had brought him a message, as the Japan Times reports. It may have been that he didn’t have any change; it may have been that the courier had refused money. But Einstein had the idea that these small slips of paper might be worth much more than a handful of change one day.

When he had arrived in Tokyo, the scientist had been met by crowds of fans. He had been traveling around the world, giving a series of lectures, in America, in British Palestine, and in southeast Asia. He was in Asia when he received a telegram informing him he had won a Nobel Prize. He must have understood what his growing fame could mean when he handed the courier these two notes.

One of the notes is one the stationery of the Imperial Hotel, Tokyo; the other is on a blank sheet of paper. They’re both being sold by an auction house in Israel, by the anonymous German owner. It’s unclear how these notes passed hands and reemerged now, but they're small hints as to how Einstein treated people and thought of the world in terms of human experience, not just grand theories.

Monday, October 23rd, 2017 10:00 am

"Car in Concrete."

When German artist Wolf Vostell visited los Barruecos in 1974, he deemed the area, dotted with ancient weathered granite monoliths, a natural work of art, and vowed to install a Fluxus museum that could work with the natural beauty of the landscape. And so he did. In 1976, in an old 18th-century wool-washing house, Vostell installed the first sculpture, “VOAEX” (Car in Concrete).

Wolf Vostell was a pioneer of the Fluxus movement, a reactionary, postwar art movement that, according to the manifesto written by artist George Maciunas, sought to “purge the world of dead art.” Vostell intended to fill the historic building with contemporary art.

Some of Vostell’s most representative works are featured at the museum, including “Auto Fever,” “Fluxus Buick Piano,” and “Why did the process between Pilate and Jesus last only two minutes?”, the last a towering sculpture made up of a Russian aircraft, two cars, several computer monitors, and three pianos that stands over 50 feet tall (and now some birds and their nests).

In 2017, National Geographic Spain called the Vostell Malpartida Museum one of the most important museums in Spain. 

Monday, October 23rd, 2017 09:34 am

If a night “mare” was originally a very specific type of frightening nocturnal visitor, today our nightmares are bad dreams, night terrors, and all sorts of fears that bubble up from our brains to haunt the dark hours. And sometimes, we dream dreams so frightening that they stick in our minds for decades, inescapable but inscrutable windows into our deepest fears.

We want to hear about those dreams and terrors, the ones that stay with you for years. What's the dream that scared you as a child and still gives you chills? What was the worst dream you ever had? If you've experienced hallucinations during sleep paralysis, what did you see? What dream made you whimper in the night and wake the person sleeping next to you?

Please tell us all about them here or use the form below.

Here are some from the Atlas Obscura staff:

Being eaten by ant. Grandpa also eaten by ant. A very big ant.

Falling asleep in math class, having sleep paralysis, and thinking all of my classmates were staring at me and their eyes were just holes. I could hear them making yowling noises like cats.

Going to jail for the rest of my life and I'm on my last day of freedom just wallowing in a sea of dread.

Sitting in a field covered in grass, flowers, and other plants and keep hearing an approaching thud in the distance. Each night, the thud would get louder and the field would shrink around me. I'd grow increasingly frantic about it and wake up. Then, on the last night, there was one patch left right in front of me, and I looked up and saw a giant robot leg coming down to stomp it—and me—out.

Being chased by wolves or sharks.

This recurring, inescapable image of a giant, inverted pyramid, balancing on a single stone. And I was filled with dread that if i moved or let my mind wander for even a second, it would collapse and destroy everything and—specifically—make a deafening, roaring sound as it came down.

We'll be collecting these dreams and publishing the most strange, frightening, and hallucinatory among them later this week, just in time for Halloween weekend, when nightmares come alive.

Monday, October 23rd, 2017 09:33 am

Nightmares, as we use the word today, are vivid, personal terrors whipped up by a person’s subconscious just for them—a giant snapping turtle, a car that starts backing away from home on its own, a rocket ship with two witches in the backseat eating a potato/voodoo doll that causes the front seat to disappear with every bite. But in centuries past a night “mare” was a very specific type of frightening nocturnal visitor, a spirit or demon that would sit on a person’s chest and suffocate them.

The root of the English word "nightmare" is the Old English maere. In Anglo-Saxon and Old Norse, a mara was something known to sneak into people’s rooms at night, plop down on their bodies, and give them bad dreams. When the mare came to visit, the victim would feel a heavy weight—it might start at the feet, but it always settled on the chest—and lose the ability to move. Mares could be sent by sorceresses and witches: One Norwegian king died when his wife, tired of waiting for 10 years for him to come home, commissioned a mare attack. The conjured spirit started by crushing the king’s legs while his men tried to protect his head. But when they went to defend his legs, the mare pressed down on his head and killed him.


This apparition roamed across Europe—it was a mahr in Germany, a marra in Denmark, a mare in French. The visions that the mare brought upon its victims were often called “mare rides”—martröð in Anglo-Saxon, mareridt in Danish, and mareritt in Norwegian, according to (now retired) folklore scholar D.L. Ashliman.

Ashliman collected accounts of mares from across Europe, as well as advice for how to get rid of them. People troubled by mares might want to place their shoes by the side of the bed and turn the laces towards the place where they plan to lie down. Mares snuck in through keyholes or knot holes, so plugging these openings could keep them away. Alternatively, you could enlist a friend, wait for the mare to appear, and then plug the hole to capture it. (Mares were thought to be female, and a few men in these folkloric accounts were able to trap a beautiful wife this way—but she always escaped when she rediscovered the place she’d come through.) If a mare was sitting on you, you could try putting your thumb in your hand to get it to leave, or you could promise it a gift, which it would come the next day to collect.


Today, it’s thought that the mare's particular nastiness was a way to explain a type of sleep paralysis that, as historian Owen Davies writes in Folklore, affects perhaps 5 to 20 percent of people in their lifetime. Sleep paralysis happens at the edge of sleep, usually just before sleeping or just after waking. Sufferers can see and hear, without being able to move or speak. And some people who experience this state also report feeling a heavy pressure on their chests and a sensation of choking, and the sensation of a dark presence in the room.

“As a boy, I would experience a frightening sound, somewhere between white noise and insect buzzing, while feeling a dark presence in the room,” the writer Andrew Emery explains, in his account of sleep paralysis. In the worst case, he writes, “I’ll fight to regain consciousness and, having told myself I have done so, will still find that there’s some foul presence in my bedroom which then proceeds to punch me in the stomach. At this stage, my mind, which seconds ago knew it was experiencing sleep paralysis, is now convinced I’m the victim of a real-world demonic attack."

There’s no precise treatment for sleep paralysis, nothing better than the superstitions and charms used by medieval people to keep away the mare and its attacks. The episodes are, Davies writes, “a moment when reality, hallucination, and belief fuse to form powerful fantasies of supernatural violation”—a truly terrifying experience, demonic or otherwise.

We want to hear about your dreams and terrors, the ones that stay with you for years. What’s the dream that scared you as a child and still gives you chills? What was the worst dream you ever had? If you’ve experienced hallucinations during sleep paralysis, what did you see? Please tell us all about them here. We’ll publish the most strange, frightening, and hallucinatory among them later this week, just in time for Halloween weekend.

Monday, October 23rd, 2017 12:51 pm

Posted by Matt Gontarchick (Contributor)

Hyperloop test track construction to begin in Maryland

Maryland gave Elon Musk the green light to dig 10 miles of tunnels under state-owned roads for the Hyperloop, which could one day reduce the travel time from the District to New York City in just 29 minutes.  However, few details of the project have been released.  (Mike Laris / Post)

Fate of Hogan’s highway plan rests on its environmental impact

The fate of Maryland Governor Larry Hogan's proposal to widen and add toll lanes to a few key highways depends on whether it can be pulled off with little to no demolition of any homes and businesses in the way of construction.  (Katherine Shaver / Post)

Should “East of the River” be rebranded as “East End”?

DC Ward 7 Councilmember Vincent Gray wants people to refer to the area east of the Anacostia River as the "East End" due to negative connotations surrounding "East of the River" and the success of rebranded neighborhoods like NoMa.  (Perry Stein / Post)

Electric dockless bikeshare company JUMP is growing

Jump is planning to grow to increase their stock to more than 100 bikes in November. The electric dockless bikeshare service got rave reviews but has fewer bikes than others, so it can be hard to find one to ride.   (Michelle Goldchain / Curbed DC)

Fairfax high school’s Confederate name change grows heated

The Fairfax County School Board is voting this week on a new name for J.E.B. Stuart High School, which is named for a Confederate general. Tensions among community members are running high as the debate continues.  (Debbie Truong / Post)

More needs to be done to prep region for major hurricane

The Washington region is particularly vulnerable to a major hurricane thanks to its coastal location, and it's important for public officials to take into account issues like housing affordability as they devise flood prevention strategies.  (Nena Perry-Brown / UrbanTurf)

After 56 years, the sun sets on RFK Stadium

RFK Stadium ended its 56-year run on Sunday. Even though the stadium wasn't in tip-top shape, football and soccer fans are sure to miss it. Some DC United fans worry that they won't be able to afford tickets to the new stadium.  (Martin Astermuhle / WAMU)

Top image: The Anacostia River.  Image by Jim Havard licensed under Creative Commons.

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Monday, October 23rd, 2017 09:00 am

Inviting, isn't it?

Most everyone is aware of England's usual prehistoric suspects, Stonehenge and Avebury. And yes, they are certainly majestic (if you don't mind the tour groups and flash photography). But there is something special about the lesser known monoliths that can be found off the beaten path.

Southern England's most impressive, less travelled prehistoric sites are undoubtedly those found in the antique landscape of Cornwall. And the Merry Maidens neolithic stone circle is right up there with the finest.

Sure, the stones are no where near as large as Stonehenge or Avebury, and there isn't a fridge magnet in sight. But the Merry Maidens does boast its very own bus stop (called simply 'The Merry Maidens"), served by the number 1 bus from Penzance. Which means it is accessible for those without cars, and yet inaccessible enough to escape the seething hordes drawn by its larger easterly counterparts, even at the height of Cornwall's bustling tourist season.

The local legend is that the monoliths were formed when 19 young maidens were turned to stone for dancing on a Sunday. The site is also known as Dans Maen (or the butchered version, "Dawns Men") from the Cornish term for "Stone Dance."

Yet the Merry Maidens site also feels... well, merry. Even for those disinclined to neo-paganism or spiritual healing, a sunny summer evening spent amongst these 19 happy ladies feels somehow restorative, like good things went on here in distant antiquity and continue to do so today. While Stonehenge inspires a sense of sublime awe, the Merry Maidens, in their modest, simple way, seem to be inviting you to join in a dance that's been going on since before history began.

Monday, October 23rd, 2017 01:00 pm

Posted by Jonathan Crowe

I’ve belatedly heard the news that Robert G. Bartholomew died last April in Edinburgh at the age of 90. Robert and his older brothers John and Peter, who died in 2008 and 1987, respectively,...

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Monday, October 23rd, 2017 11:27 am

Posted by Dave

June 1939. "Shadows on tent, Quarter Circle U Ranch, Big Horn County, Mont." Photo by Arthur Rothstein for the Farm Security Administration. View full size.